Declining to Serve As Executor of a Will

While it may be hard to believe, people and relationships change over time. (Duh.) However, some people's Last Will and Testaments don't change in a similar fashion. A question that occasionally arises when it comes time to probate someone's will is 'what if this person doesn't want to serve as executor?'

Going back to 1864 and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing involuntary servitude, no one is legally required to serve as the executor of an estate, or a trustee of a trust, or guardian for a minor. If you are nominated to serve and don't want to get involved because: (a) it is going to get messy, (b) you don't have the time or (c) you don't like dealing with attorneys, you can simply decline to serve. Of course, you may have to battle any moral coercion to fulfill the decedent's wishes, but that is for each person to deal with.

Hopefully, the testator named an alternate name as a backup in the event the first choice either declines to serve or cannot for some reason, which I strongly recommend for my estate plans.


Wills in Texas said…
I also highly recommend that my clients name one or more alternate executors in their wills. I think this is prudent advice.
Matthew Gardner said…
Agreed, Wills in Texas. Having alternates named is normal and regular practice.
Anonymous said…
Is there any legal papers to file and/or serve to turn down executorship if there is already another executor?

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